Mika Kallio will start the 2009 MotoGP season as the overwhelming favourite for the rookie of the year title, after a strong winter showing culminated in a superb sixth place during the final day of pre-season testing at Jerez on Sunday.
The Finn may have finished 1.5sec behind Casey Stoner, but he got within 0.4sec of third fastest Loris Capirossi, was the second best Ducati rider after Stoner and the highest ranked satellite rider.
“Between yesterday and this morning we have studied the situation of the track and the bike. Together with my technical director, Fabiano Sterlacchini, we have put together all the positive things we found and we had an almost perfect bike,” revealed Kallio, a former 125 and 250cc title contender for KTM.
“I still lose too much time in the last sector otherwise we could have finished in an even better position. We are doing a great work and I believe we can keep up the good work also in the first race in Qatar,” he declared.
Of the two other 2009 MotoGP rookies, Yuki Takahashi was 0.6sec slower in 14th for Team Scot Honda with Kallio's Pramac team-mate Niccolo Canepa a disappointing 18th, 1.4sec from Kallio.
“Day of immense emotions,” said Canepa. “I have taken my first official photo with the great MotoGP riders. Then I have done a photo with all the Italian riders, I almost wanted to ask if I could have taken a picture of them. I was beside Vale, Macho, Loris, Dovi and de Angelis.
“But then things didn't go too well for me during official qualifying, as it has been [on Saturday]. I couldn't manage to be fast in the corners and I was losing too much time. I hope in Qatar things will go better. Surely I can guarantee I will keep my morale high and never give up,” insisted the Italian.
Paolo Campinoti was pleased with the performance of his restructured team heading into the new season, and reassured Canepa that the team believes in his talent.
“What to say? It seems like we have started the season well,” he said of Kallio's sixth. “We have renovated our structure and things are turning in the right direction for us. We are really satisfied. After the results of this test it seems like we will be able to be between the protagonists during this season.
“Niccolò has on the other side found too many difficulties. He has to stay calm, we know his true value and we will do all possible to put him in the best situation to perform at his best,” he added.
The 2009 MotoGP season will begin at Qatar on the evening of April 12.